In music, we use the word tempo to describe what speed a passage of music should be played at. But describing the tempo of a piece of music is a little harder than using words like “fast or slow”. Tempo is a more of a relative term and so in music, we use different Italian terms to describe different speeds.
In this post I’m going to cover all the words we use to describe music as slow. Let’s get started.
Italian terms for slow tempo
Below are all the Italian terms used to describe slow tempos and I’ve put a rough BPM (beats per minute) if you want to use a metronome to check the speed.
|Larghissimo||as slow as possible||under 24 bpm|
|Grave||very slow, solemn||25–45 bpm|
|Largo||slowly and broadly||40–60 bpm|
|Larghetto||fairly slow and broadly||60–66 bpm|
|Adagietto||slower than andante||70–80 bpm|
|Andante||at a walking pace||76–108 bpm|
|Andantino||slightly faster than andante||80–108 bpm|
|Marcia moderato||moderately, in the manner of a march||83–85 bpm|
|Moderato||at a moderate speed||108–120 bpm|
Note that the beats per minute are rough indications and there are lots of different opinions.